Changing needs of the education sector
With schools across the UK still getting used to the tougher national curriculum, classroom environments will need to change to give students the best possible space for learning. With more emphasis on coding, Design & Technology, and more advanced Maths for younger Primary-aged "Schools will require dedicated areas for Design & Technology or Art-based subjects."children, schools must re-think their learning environment to give children the best possible chances.
Schools will need to adapt classrooms to make space for the greater emphasis on computer work and will require dedicated areas for Design & Technology or Art-based subjects, with plenty of open space and natural light. Primary-aged children, who now need to learn fractions at the age of five or six, will need quiet areas for concentration. But these new expectations come at a time of the great school place squeeze, when in reality classrooms are doubling up their learning spaces and struggling to find room for the growing number of students. This is a particularly serious problem in older schools with limited facilities or inner city schools that don’t have enough space to expand.
Top tips for improving dedicated learning environments
Despite all these challenges, there are plenty of ways that schools can use creative thinking and innovation to meet the needs of the changing curriculum and increased pupil numbers. Here’s our favourite ideas for creating the best possible dedicated learning environments:
- Collaboration is key: Effective change starts with open discussions. By talking to students about how to improve their classroom environment, you’ll benefit from increased motivation, great ideas and you can use this collaboration process as a learning tool, too. Try getting students to design their own classroom with interactive design tools for some first-hand learning and they can feedback their ideas to the wider class.
- The golden rules for effective learning: There are particular factors that are essential to create the best possible learning environment. Natural light, flexibility of layout, paint colour and air quality are all important to help students achieve their full potential.
- Create a flexible space: Designing a classroom that can easily be adapted to move between group sessions and individual work or allow space for creativity can make a huge difference to a learning environment. Free standing chairs and tables as well as mobile storage make it much easier to adapt the classroom for different subject needs. By adopting this method, you can turn your classroom into a flexible space with defined areas for each subject. A flexible layout also helps to encourage inspirational teaching and makes it easier for teachers to be much more interactive in the classroom.
- Get creative with storage: It’s hard to concentrate when there’s clutter all around us, and it’s the same for the classroom. Wall mounted storage can create more floor space which is vital for arts-based subjects where students need enough space for their materials. You can opt for school chairs which come with their own individual storage, perfect for reducing clutter in the cloakroom areas. While wall displays are vital for personalisation and helping students to feel proud of their work, over stimulation can make it difficult to concentrate. Try to keep at least 20% of the wall space completely clear.
- Every space can be a learning space: If space is limited, it’s time to think creatively across the school about how to create a learning environment in every corner of the campus. Why not run small group sessions in the hallways or get children involved in designing and creating an outdoor classroom? Outdoor learning is perfect for music, art or even theory-based subjects, and bringing traditional subjects outdoors will help to keep students engaged. Students of all ages need fresh ideas to stay motivated, so creating new dedicated learning spaces could make all the difference.
Use today’s challenges as tomorrow’s opportunities
We all know that Britain’s schools are facing major challenges. But rising to these challenges and using creative ideas to overcome them will in itself help teaching to stay inspiring and engaging. So giving students the chance to design their own classroom layout, interacting rather than sitting at a desk or helping students to create an outdoor classroom isn’t just about managing with less space – it’s about truly inspirational teaching. Teachers working in today’s learning environments will have to move away from traditional methods and perhaps that’s an exciting opportunity.
Despite the challenges facing the education sector, schools across the country are managing to find innovative ways to create the best possible dedicated learning environments.
How do you develop learning environments? Let us know below.